While most of the country is playing today, No. 4 Clemson is taking a break.
The Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) have an open date today and it could not have come at a better time for them. With Kelly Bryant leaving the team two weeks ago, the stress of almost losing the Syracuse game and then the sudden death of former teammate C.J. Fuller, the last two weeks have difficult for Clemson.
However, the Tigers handled it well and found a way to beat Syracuse despite trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter and then last week racked up 471 yards rushing and 698 overall in a 63-3 win at Wake Forest.
When they come back from a weekend off on Monday, the will begin preparations for No. 20 NC State, who comes to Death Valley for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday.
“It definitely is good for everyone to have a week (off),” quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “We are six weeks in and halfway through the season, so it definitely comes at a good time. If we did not have it, I think we would still be fine and play well, but I definitely think it is coming at a perfect time.”
It comes as Clemson seems to be getting things in gear on offense. The Tigers have rushed for more than 330 yards per game the last four weeks, while Lawrence and the receivers seem to be getting more on the same page with each game.
He threw two touchdowns passes for 55 and 20 yards to Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins last week and now has 11 touchdown passes for the season. His 174.1 quarterback efficiency rating leads the ACC through the first half of the season. He is second in completion percentage at 69 percent.
“We are blessed at Clemson to have great receivers and great skills players that obviously are in the league and it shows up,” right guard Sean Pollard said. “Everybody wants to come here and be a receiver.”
But as the Tigers have proven, they can also run the football too. They rank second in the ACC and fifth nationally at 280.8 yards per game on the ground. It is Clemson’s best average in the ground game since Steve Fuller and the 1978 Tigers averaged 289.1 yards per game.
Travis Etienne has been the biggest beneficiary in the Tigers’ attack. He leads the ACC in total rushing yards with 761 and is averaging 126.8 yards per game. He has rushed for 654 yards in the last four games and has scored nine of his team-high 11 rushing touchdowns.
Now, as an offense, Clemson can go into the break feeling good about where they are at.
“It’s nice. This bye week definitely line up good – six and six,” Pollard said. “So, it is a great time of the year. I enjoy football season and we all do. We train all year for just twelve games, so it is nice to have a week off. Well, not a week off, but not have a Saturday game. We can use the weekend to let our bodies rest and get ready for the long run.”
“Mentally, it is just nice to disconnect for the day and get to be a normal person and a normal student,” he continued. “Just disconnect a bit and enjoy being a college kid. Some guys get to go home, so we will get to enjoy seeing our families for a little bit. Not everyone gets to see them, especially during bowl season. We don’t get to go home like everyone else, so it will be nice to disconnect for a day, but that is all we need … a day. Then we will get back into it.”